Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Remember Who You Are.....

(Not wanting to alarm folks, I hesitated sharing the following so publicly. Yet every time I hear myself recounting the story privately to a friend, I realize I need to write it. Here goes....)

Over the past few months I've been off and on navigating the medical system, off and on because the doctor with whom I'm working periodically hears me say: I think I'm going to try energy work or a homeopathic remedy before taking further steps. The thing I appreciate and respect about this man is he not only sees me again when a remedy doesn't work, but he actually has a degree of curiosity as to what I'm trying. This is a highly unusual and most refreshing trait to find in one's doctor. His honesty has kept me returning to him to report on what I'm doing and find out what he suggests as a next step.

One of those next steps recently took me to the hospital for a biopsy. There at 7am I thought I would be one of the first folks seen so I could get on with my day. Instead I got in line and was given a card reading number "56". I felt like I was in the airport awaiting a Southwest flight in the day when passengers got colored coded and numbered flight cards.

To my surprise, I was called to another area quickly where a kind gentleman collected information then said if I paid my bill in full that day I'd get a 20% discount. I was stunned at even the discounted cost that I insisted they file insurance first. He kindly noted this and ushered me on to my next stop where I presented my doctor's orders for a neck biopsy. To everyone's surprise including mine, I had been scheduled for a thyroid biopsy. A neck biopsy meant I needed blood work prior to the procedure. As I'm being shuffled apologetically down yet another corridor, the man with me called out to a doctor just in front of us. The doctor learned I was his next patient. He looked at my neck and said I didn't need blood work. I smiled appreciating the synchronicity of encountering the doctor in the hallway.

An hour later, an apologetic nurse retrieved me from yet another holding area. By this point, I would typically be irritated, hostile and judgmental, while attributing the morning's confusion to brokenness of the system. I had a litany of former frustrations with 'the system' from trying to help family members navigate it. This was my first time to do so personally.

Throughout the past few months during this journey, I had been practicing seeing those about me, from the nurses and technicians to receptionists and insurance handlers, through a lens of love rather than fear. I had been amazed at how doing something so simple had kept me in an open place and prevented fear from controlling me. I was mindful of looking each person in the eye and seeing them as assistants as part of my journey.

My attitude was challenged when the nurse on this particular morning pulled a curtain back and offered me a hospital gown and bed on which to lie while waiting. The biopsy was on my neck. Why did I need a gown and a bed for that? When she asked if I had a 'driver' I realized I might be in for something a bit more significant than a few pin pricks in the neck. Fear temporarily became part of the lens through which I was seeing my experience.

As I lay in the bed surrounded by a curtain, I was aware of the many conversations around me. They were unavoidable in such close quarters. One man was having his lungs biopsied. The risks of the procedure were being explained and highlighted to he and his family since he had a horrible cough as well as a fever. Another woman was having a heart procedure while another was having something kidney related done which she had previously had done it seemed multiple times.

While lying there, I became acutely aware of how the material world pulls us away from who we really are and even more so when the material world is trauma-related and fear creating like a hospital. Just as I realized this I heard: "Remember who you are." No, it wasn't the voice of yet another staff member checking my cognitive capacities. It was a voice, that shot through my mind, not audibly but certainly not of my mind. I clearly heard: Remember who you are and I immediately knew: I am love.

I nearly get teary (happy tears) just recalling this because here I lay in a place surrounded by strangers, without my 'driver,' uncertain which procedure I was ultimately gonna have and all I could feel, think and be was love. A feeling of love permeated my body as I lay in a hospital bed in a strange place but not feeling like a stranger at all. I lay there over an hour, yes an hour, feeling such joy and happiness while sending love to the staff and patients all around me and throughout the hospital floors above me. I was in a deep meditative state aware that I seldom enter such a place of quiet at home because of the many distractions.

I was in that place when a different young woman came and wheeled me to the biopsy room where I met the doctor from the hallway again. Seeing the equipment that would be used to assist in the exploration of my neck made me realize the earlier sum of money requested wasn't much compared to the equipment used, not to mention paying the many salaries of those who assisted me throughout the morning.

Another hour of so later, I made it home fine without a 'driver.' Come to think of it, Love was my driver, love and the voice that I thankfully heard and obeyed. It never fails when I'm awake and aware I get little messages of such simplicity and importance.

My gift to you this holiday and every day is "Remember who you are." Take the time to listen, to pay attention to find the things that speak to you, the small things that move you and make you feel, that bring a smile to your insides or a tear to your eye. Remember, remember who you really are and allow whomever you find to be your 'driver' in the coming year!
-Love, Dawn!, The Good News Muse with the Little Lump of Rare, but Benign Cells

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy, Sweet, Sad, Dear, Deep Holidays

There's a certain start and stop quality to my decorating this year. Last night we began decorating the Christmas tree. This morning I did a bit more. Last year we didn't have a tree. Ooops, I take that back. There was a temporary tree bought the prior month at a yard sale for $2. I put it together certain that parts would be missing since I came by it so cheaply. Instead I found it was a beautiful five footer with all the necessary limbs to look very tree like. I also discovered in moments prior to decorating it that young Bogeysattva who was spending his first Christmas with us had the necessary limbs, four of them, enabling him to scale the inner tree like a little round about as he went from one level to the next ultimately to perch and peer from the top. To Bogey's dismay, I disassembled his new jungle gym and put it away in exchange for a tiny tabletop tree with magical dancing lights built into the limbs.

So yes, I technically had a tree, but not one that allowed the hanging of my ornament collection from over the years. This Christmas I determined to try again hoping Bogey had 'matured' or had found satisfying, higher hiding spaces that he didn't have last year.

Decorating the tree has been a beautiful experience thanks in part to the ornaments that come from places and people who have been dear to me. Many of them are gifts from the women on my family tree and from travels afar and just down the road.

Last night though was different. Last night was hard. Last night I realized in the more recent years I've accumulated things beyond ornaments surrounding the holidays. Last evenings challenges began with the many cat ornaments I discovered I have...and they're unrelated to Mystery and Bogey. These are the ornaments from the eighteen years Templeton spent Christmas with me.

The last 'real' Christmas tree I had was 2007. I still recall the happiness I felt as I heard Templeton lapping up the water from the tree stand. I was grateful to find she liked tree water, since she like me didn't drink enough in winter. I learned early in the new year that Templeton was dying. I also learned chemicals in tree water can be highly toxic to pets. This may not have been the primary cause of her death, but I did not want another 'live' tree. I didn't want to fear Bogey and Mystery's finding a new water source or be reminded of Templeton's little lapping sounds.

I forget memories and emotions can't be avoided. I was reminded of Templeton with every cat ornament that went on the tree last night. I kept decorating only to be reminded of the year prior. How we got the phone call as I was considering undecorating the tree. The phone call informed us that a dear friend had died. We had seen him a couple of weeks prior to Christmas when my nephew rushed him from West TN to the Vanderbilt emergency room. That holiday included a stay in the hospital for Jonathan who was so spirited and young. His cancer had only been found earlier that Spring and by Christmas he looked nothing like himself physically yet his light shown through as bright as a star atop the tree.

We got the phone call and I undecorated the tree in minutes. That's no exaggeration. Jerry walked into the room and said "What are you doing? What happened to the tree?" My response to not wanting to feel regarding Jonathan's death was to undecorate the tree faster than I could feel. I still remember thinking, 'I am distracting myself from feeling the loss of Jonathan.' This is another reason I've not really enjoyed decorating a tree.

Then there's my father. The Christmas of 2005. We thought his last Christmas might be 2004 after receiving his cancer diagnosis earlier that summer. I write we 'thought' because no one actually said it yet many of us including my aunt from Alabama traveled to Middle TN for the Christmas meal. We showed up and of course my father didn't. He left home early that morning having unbeknownst to us volunteered to work all day allowing younger coworkers to be at home with their children. Meanwhile my father's family gathered without him and acted as if all was normal when it wasn't.

Month's passed and Christmas 2005 arrived. Some of us wondered between ourselves if my father would die on his father's death, Dec. 23. Papaw, as we called him, died in intensive care just down the street from me the day before Christmas Eve in 2001. For several days prior, I traveled Natchez Trace visiting him during the allotted hours as well as seeing my parents often taking them pumpkin pie lattes from the new Starbucks in the area.

My grandfather lay in the bed for days often repeating over and over the phrase "Lord's Prayer. Lord's Prayer." I volunteered to say the Lord's Prayer with or for him and he'd firmly say, "NO." This was the man I had known all my life by whom my father was reared. The man who was in control and controlling was loosing control. I'll never forget singing to him, at the moment I don't even recall the song, trying to help him find peace. He told me he didn't want me to sing, but I did. Instead of saying, "That's disappointing or sad" I sang anyway. I knew the words to Amazing Grace or whatever it was, but I didn't listen to the words of my heart, the words that would have been unscripted, personal.

I thought my father would live through the holidays in 2005 or at least be held hostage without being able to get in his car and avoid us the way he did the year prior. He ended up with hospice care in a hospital bed at home for our last Christmas together. I was so grateful to be able to sit by his bed and just be rather than have another funeral to hang on memory's tree, but even then there was a Christmas tree, a small one like the one I had last year that sat on the bedside table in his room.

I had no idea when I first started writing this that I would cry my way through holidays prior. All I knew was I wanted to own the fact that decorating a tree had been surprisingly hard for me. Now I know why. I've privately and at times openly grieved all the above losses but like Bogey going round and round last years Christmas tree, each time an anniversary arrives there's another layer to be felt, another rung to be climbed revealing a new perspective.

Having nearly completed the forced decoration of the tree, I want a do-over. I want to redecorate the tree from an engaged place allowing tears to flow if there are any left. Then it occurs to me, have you ever seen anyone actually crying as they put ornaments on a tree or a wreathe on the door? I haven't and the thought of my doing so prompts the fear of folks thinking, 'What is her problem?'

I'll tell you what my problem's been. I have spent far too much of my life especially the 2000's not allowing myself to express what I'm feeling. This has been the elephant in my world as I began writing about in the prior Musing "Elephants in the House of Love."

So if you see me or talk with me or think of me this holiday and I'm crying, please don't have pity or feel sad for me. Be glad I'm allowing the greenery that grows in my heart to be alive and nourished. I'm resuscitating my heart through beautiful sadness while honoring all of those in my life, Templeton, Jonathan, my father and grandfather, whose lives are sweet ornaments on the tree of my heart. With that in mind and heart, it's not enough to say, "Happy Holidays." More truthfully it's "Happy, Sweet, Sad, Dear, Deep Holidays."

P.S. I could not complete this story without completing the tree. Once again I went into the cold basement and dug out the last of the ornaments and the angel to top the tree. The sugar plum fairy I made from dough forty years ago and saved by my mother all these years is now tucked in the limbs near Ragged Ann and Andy from the same period. The angel....well that's another story. She broke. Her head broke to be exact. I didn't even know it was glass until she tipped over on the tile floor. Bogey immediately began batting chunks of angel head about as I thought, 'This is a strangely perfect metaphor reminding me of the necessity to get out of my head and live from my heart.'
As for the cats, thus far the only ones in the tree are the ornamental, hanging kind. Hopefully this will not change since Bogey, while I decorated the tree, discovered the top of the refrigerator, a warmer, higher place from which to survey his kingdom as I am in the process of discovering the kingdom of my heart.

Happy, Sweet, Sad, Dear, Deep Holidays to You and Yours and may this holiday find you dwelling inside your heart. --Dawn! The Good News Muse 12/09

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Elephants in the House of Love

My nephew Kirk (the one in the black shirt by me) and I decided to choose a photo from holiday's past and each write an impromptu story inspired by the photo to jump start the holidays and our creative juices.

Knowing this was the chosen photo prompted the turning of my wheels. I thought of how most families have "elephants," particular issues that are avoided that create either deeper denial during holidays or conflict and distress as individuals try to address the "elephant."

The photo also reminded me of "Larger than Life," the movie in which Bill Murray inherits an elephant upon his father's passing. This movie had particular significance for my nephews and me because it was released just after Mr. Murray had just been an angel in disguise for us at a Chicago Bull's game and the Elephant Sanctuary in nearby Hohenwald, TN had just opened the year prior. 1996 was an elephant themed year.

Now as I sit looking at the photo and attempting to write, I feel unexpected tears. Why would a photo so funny and dear strike a chord of sadness? The young elephants in this photo are now nearly 18, 24 and nearly 21. My sadness has something to do with the word 'dear' or more correctly the experience of someone being dear. You see I took my nephews to the above mentioned basketball game because they were dear to me. Their parents were going through a divorce and I wanted to give my nephews a positive memory. My intention, the Universe and Bill Murray got my nephews a memorable present but what I learned was the importance of presence, honestly showing up with another and listening. The 'doing' of my gift was my way of saying, "I'm sad you're going through this" but I never actually said that.

Of course, I didn't learn this lesson well enough. As my father was passing four Christmases ago, one of the bigger elephants in my life, I was told by a friend that his mother's cancer was ultimately a gift because he was able to share with her all he needed before her passing. He said, "Be sure you say everything you need to him."

I thought I did this with my father until he died. That's when I realized I never just honestly said, "I'm so sad." I sat by his bed and sang to him. I held his hand and reminisced. I thanked him for things like ensuring my car oil was changed regularly in college and for giving me Duchess our poodle in fifth grade, but I never did the simple thing. I never looked at him and said, "Daddy, I'm sad you're dying. I'm sad I feel like I've never really known you and you've not really known me." Yes, it was a stretch for me to sing especially since I'm not prone to this, but I was in control. Singing didn't make me feel vulnerable, the way simple honesty would have.

I did not practice presence. In my not wanting to feel the pain of his possibly responding gruffly to me, I said nothing at all. This of course didn't allow me the opportunity to hear him potentially say he was sad too.

Now I look at the photo above and reconsider Bill Murray's inheritance in the movie. We all inherit "elephants" of some sort. If I'm sincere in my prior story about building a house of love, I'll embrace the "elephants" in my life
as opportunities to be present and honest, not judging, but honestly speaking from my heart what's true for me.

I've nothing against gift giving, but this holiday it will be interesting to see if I can practice the level of presence to which I aspire and desire and allow that to be the greater gift I offer regardless of whether it's received. Just imagine if we shared our presence as much as we tend to share presents in this country.

And don't forget to check out my nephew Kirk's story and leave your thoughts at one of our sites .. optional of course :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Building a House of Love- Thanks to Bruce Springsteen, the Earthworm and Ants

I began regularly pressing snooze in my journey just about the time Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" became popular. Although I could sing in my head lyrics to "Dancing in the Dark" and "Hungry Heart" I still did not become a fan.

In recent months after seeing a couple of televised performances of Bruce followed by reading an inspiring piece about him in AARP magazine, I determined if he ever returned to Nashville I would see him.

I did just that recently alongside thousands of dancing and singing souls, AARP age and younger. My only regret was that having not been a fan all these years, I couldn't sing along during the three hour non-stop set except for the periodic la-la-la's and occasional phrases I remembered from the Eighties. Nor did I know that I should have gotten tickets on the chairless floor where Bruce at times walked among the crowd and early on body surfed his way back to the stage supported by fans upheld arms.

I went to the concert hoping to be inspired. Bruce did not disappoint. Early on he said, "Nashville, tonight we are building a house. We are building a house of music, hope, love and voice." I suspect Bruce says this or something similar in every city where he performs. What's important is he and we did just that. For three hours, he belted out and sweated out stories that covered the gamut of experience, allowing us to build with him an energetic house of love and hope through voice and music.

I walked away from the Sommet Center grateful that although my spirit for many years had been 'dancing in the dark' with only my intermittent conscious presence, my 'hungry heart' had somehow kept me alive.

I awoke the next morning tired from having gone to bed late thus out of sync with my usual morning rhythm. Bruce on the other hand I suspected was already up and working out.

Regardless of how funky I felt, I put on the rumpled clothes from the prior morning and headed out the door to walk under a chilly, gray sky. Not long ago this kind of November day would have only furthered my funk.

This particular morning I walked and was inspired by a very different thought zipping across my mind’s universe. I walked and thought: I carry a light. (This is where I usually unintentionally launch into getting preachy by saying you carry a light too, since you do. Instead I'll try to stick with me.) I walked and heard: You carry the light of feeling, deep feeling. This is why you cared for the earthworm. Deep feeling holds the key to the light that has been so lost in the world. It is a cornerstone in building a house of love.

As I walked I knew we are building a house of love. That's why we're all here (on the planet) at this time. My body/Your body was built to be a house of love. When I ignore or don't see my beauty or you don’t see yours, a part of the heart of the world dies. I knew I dismissed the earthworm's lesson when I didn't get this.

I walked down the street recording all I heard. I wanted to testify as church folk do for I knew we are building a house of love globally as individuals and this has a ripple effect in our relationships and communities. Okay, I was past testifying and on the verge of preaching.

Instead I slowed down and continued walking. My enthusiasm stems from a heart that for so long has yearned for a global house of love. This is why I’m deeply disturbed when I see beauty under attack be it the Appalachian Mountains or the earth worm in my garden.

I had more questions than answers and The Boss had left town. How on earth do we build a house of love with a gazillion different people on the planet? What does a house of love actually look like? What does a house of love really mean? How on earth do I build this global house with those who are so different from me with whom I disagree? Where on earth is the blue print for all this?

How quickly I forget. In my mind's eye, I see The Boss wink, not a flirtatious wink, but a knowing one with a slight grimace suggesting I know where the blue print is. I hesitantly point to my heart. He smiles and nods.

Regardless of whether Bruce Springsteen would actually do this or not, I know this imaginal man is right. The blueprint is literally right here on earth, in you, in me, in the worm, the ant…..but what does that actually mean?

What I know right now is that I must start with me. What I know right now is I am equipped to be a house of love, a home of deep feeling which I’ve neglected and ignored over the years. I've not fully, nor continually inhabited this ‘house’ for many decades. I was ‘at home’ periodically in childhood and randomly in my adult life. I see it in my eyes when I look at certain photos. At mid-life, I know many things that help me ‘build or tend my house’ – connecting with Spirit through nature, children, music; holding the world in love when I meditate or pray. I also know I have had great periods of resistance to these practices at times due to sleepwalking, stubbornness, fear and exhaustion. My personal challenge in feeling deeply is a propensity toward plunging into missions to help others build their house so to speak. I know the house plans that would work best for them forgetting that's not my job. My house burns down when I burn out. Exhausted, I slowly rebuild.

My challenge is living from a place of balance as well as reconciling deep feelings related to sex trafficking, environmental degradation, Wall Street greed and abuse of animals. In my better, more conscious moments I can feel love even toward people involved in the above, not toward their behaviors but toward them as individuals with family members who love them.

That’s the rub even with the ants and worm. I can love and appreciate each individually but it's what I saw the ants doing to the worm, that birthed tension. I can send love to an individual be they a sex trafficker or a corporate billionaire. But when I hear of a child’s body, an animal’s hide or the earth’s resources used for monetary gain, well that’s where the love turns into deep feeling kin to rage.

Then a light comes on. This is the part of the story where you may begin to think I’ve lost it, yet I loose a part of me if I edit out the following.

The earthworm, which I had days prior thought of as part of the heart of the world, was volunteering its home, its body, as nourishment for another. This level of reciprocity and sharing is relevant to how we build a house of love. Don’t ask how I made the following leap just leap with me. Isn’t this similar to what Jesus, Ghandi, Mother Teresa, Joan of Arc, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King did in his or her own way? They volunteered or lived their lives in such a way that they were living blueprints for building a house of love.

Here's another leap. In the prior story, I voiced a desire to see mystery at work in aspects of life that so trouble me. What if the situations prompting my sorrow and rage aren’t about beauty being under attack? What if the hungry heart of the world is offering itself to us through these seeming dark situations so we might awaken from our individual and collective darkness?

Scientists now know that over 90% of the universe, the inner universe of the brain as well as the outer universe of the stars, is made of dark matter. We truly are dancing in the dark. What if realizing and living from our Light illumines this dark universe within and without while returning the heart to the world?

All of the above came spilling out so quickly one morning that by lunch my 'lights' dimmed and I left the building site – me. Overwhelmed and excited about the beautiful possibilities and epiphanies, I felt pressure to not only make sense of it all but convey it in a neat, concise package. I neglected tending my personal house of love. I hardly ate all day and didn’t get up and away from the computer screen for hours. This self-created pressure and non-tending behavior led to a dryness and disconnection. I had left the site although the project manager my heart suspected I would return.

Four days later, I’m back. I still don’t know how to wrap this up. I now know I don’t have to. To wrap it up, stops the process. If I truly follow the example of the earthworm, I will allow these ideas to lie in the soil of my soul and hope they also find homes with other souls who come upon them. I will pay attention as they decompose into even richer form.

I've still more questions than answers. I will dance with these questions and pay attention to when the lights come on around possible answers or better questions. For now, I invite you as Bruce Springsteen voiced and the earthworm and ants demonstrated, to consciously build in reciprocity with this great big beautiful world and me a House of Love. Imagine that!
-Dawn! The Good News Muse

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Earthworm - Class Isn't Over

I wish I could say the earthworm story concluded where I last left it in the prior Musing. Instead I felt compelled to go check on the little creature assuming I'd find the place where I laid it empty, leaving my imagination anything but empty as I'd get to wonder about the earthworms wanderings in our garden.

As lunch simmered, I ran out to pay respects one last time. After writing the story of our encounter, I wanted to share my appreciation again with this creature. Instead I found beneath the fern and covered by the ginkgo leaf, ants sharing in the earthworm's literal energy, swarming its little body feeding their even smaller bodies.

I felt sick and wished I had left the little worm to find its way along the sidewalk blocks from my home. I heard: Dawn, you brought him home in love and he brought you home to love.

I was not consoled. I felt so sad. In the ants, I was being challenged to see the 'all in the small' in a way I did not desire. It's not that I hate ants. I've sat mesmerized watching a single ant cart a crumb ten times its size across the patio. Likewise I've found myself curious as to how they work together and the application of this to the human family.

What was it about their busyness that troubled me so, caused this visceral reaction in my heart, body and spirit? They were congregating, swarming over the ant as if it might be their last meal.

The little earthworm reminded me of our Earth and the ants, us, frantically and unconsciously devouring the planet and its resources. Our actions, like the ants, suggest we've been using this amazing planet without awareness that we're participants in a sacred process. I would feel some consolation knowing the ants were honoring of the worm as they raced around and over it. In my human way, I assumed they were not. It was hard to feel anything sacred in the process I witnessed.

I could step back and see how I was the ant in other ways. In the prior story, I became the human ambulance rushing down the sidewalk to get the little worm to my garden. I momentarily went unconscious. Letting fear run me, I temporarily quit listening. The ant's reminded me of the part of me that gets compulsive, that hurries and scurries fearing the Universe will run out of ideas. How can I expect the ants to rest into knowing and trust that my garden is filled with a cornucopia of composting material sustenance to last the winter when I forget the Universe is about abundance? It overflows with material to be composted creatively for soul filling sustenance.

Intellectually I summoned all kinds of parallels, but I still could not watch the ants feeding on the earthworm. I had formed an attachment to the little worm that had been my teacher in a short time earlier that morning.

"Well, that's the problem," a Buddhist might say. "This is why we practice non-attachment."

I do not like good-byes. I do not like endings yet the idea of non-attachment has never appealed to me. I've felt it could be used to create emotional distance, a wall of sorts, keeping one from being engaged with the world, in my present situation with the worm.

I determined that if I'm truly going to be at home in the Universe I needed to witness the process of life occurring under the fern with my senses and heart open, otherwise I was practicing my own version of non-attachment, distant and shut down.

I returned to the garden, not sadistically to cause myself pain but to see if I could be a curious and compassionate witness to this aspect of nature and thereby glean something deeper.

Doing so did not alleviate my discomfort. I felt love for the little being that had in such a short time reminded me of the heart of the world and myself. Something that is repulsive, icky to most people had come to represent an aspect of beauty to me while reminding me of my own beauty.

Ah, my insides relaxed as I came upon the key to my discomfort. I had stumbled into what was so troubling, beauty was under attack. This explained my strong reaction not only to the ant and worm, but to the aerial hunting of wolves in Alaska, the practice of raiding bear dens in Russia while killing the mothers and leaving thousands of cubs orphaned as well as coal mining practices that have so far left hundreds of mountain tops barren in Appalachia. In all these situations beauty seems to be under attack.

I had kicked myself for having gotten involved in the worm's journey. My intentions may have been loving, but they had gotten it eaten. Now I was grateful for yet another lesson shown by the smaller of Creator's creatures.

But class was not over yet. My next assignment was to find a way to see the ants as part of the heart, creatures of beauty, to not just see the mystery in the mundane, but to see the mystery at work in aspects of life that trouble me, like animals being stalked and mountains tops destroyed. Where is the 'good news' in these situations? How is the sacred showing up in these things? As the worm shared its energy on many levels with the ants and me, I would be digesting all of this for time to come.

To be continued..... - Dawn! The Good News Muse

Crawling Home, Finding Grace - Lessons from the Earthworm

During yesterday's walk, I came across five little earth worms, all in close proximity to one another, lying dry and dead on the sidewalk. I immediately wondered what caused this exodus from the rich, dark earth they call home?  I suspected a chemical sprayed on the nearby lawn, the roof to their world, had prompted the evacuation or they had been lured, not by the neighbor's grass being greener, but by the warmth of the sidewalk after the sudden drop in temperature this week.

I held each one then placed it in the grass, actually down into the grass in the dirt then covered them with leaves. I thought of a phrase I had first heard Jean Houston reference "to see the all in the small" and walked on.

A couple of blocks further down the busy street, I came upon another worm. Was this an animalian holy day of which I'm unaware? Were the worms presenting themselves, a high protein offering of sorts, to the birds as a last supper prior to winter's leaner months?

Cupped in my hand, I held the worm which began to move. This presented a problem. What was the right thing to do? Should I place him back into the grass where the chances of living seemed slim at least in this area or leave him on the sidewalk to his own devices? What felt most like love was to relocate him to my yard where he could crawl among the chemically-free grown ferns and determine whether to live or die.

I, a grown and graying woman, walked down Natchez Trace with a worm cupped in my hand nestled alongside a golden ginkgo leaf I had picked up earlier. I walked and wondered: What if this little earth worm is the heart of the world? (I've quit asking where these questions come from and instead just go with them.)

If not the heart of the world, at least a part of the world. This is when I noticed a tiny bit of blood on my palm coming from the earth worm. Maybe it is the heart of the world or the heart of the earth. Both are bleeding, yet like the worm are still very much alive.

The heart needs us as tenders of the heart to hold it each in our own way.  It asks to be held and considered by people in places of prominence as they make decisions as well as held by people like myself walking the world's sidewalks loving an earthworm and all it represents.

Suddenly I panicked. If I'm holding the heart of the world or a piece of it, I do not want it to die. I picked up my pace, like a human ambulance, trying to get the little worm to my fern recovery room. I then realized in my rush that I was missing a significant part of what I was being offered.

I slowed down. The little worm was offering itself and its love to me. How often do I give love while missing the experience of receiving? The Earth Worm says: Don't rush. Hold me. Listen. As you share with me, let me share with you.

It has forgiven me for its many kin whose lives I took while fishing as a kid in country creeks. Furthermore as we walked, it taught me about me, who I am, that I am love, care and compassion. I have been offered this lesson by animals before but never by an earthworm.

Arriving home, I walk into my backyard with a spirit of reverence, a sense of the sacred. I knelt among the ferns and opened the door of my palm as a little brown line of life crawled home.

This is grace. I have arrived home changed knowing the Divine palm that has held me safely with familiarity and sameness is opening. Some days I fly.  Many days I crawl. What matters most is I, like the earthworm, am coming home.
-Dawn , The Good News Muse,  11 March 2014

Thursday, November 12, 2009

While Washing Windows ... Further Thoughts on Beauty and Love

One story often leads to another which is what happened immediately after posting the prior one inspired by Martha Stewart's "Living." This time rather than pressing "Post" followed by "Send," my editor came to work and effectively shut me down. No, I don't have an editor I've not told you about, I'm referring to the internal editor that arrived the day after posting the Martha-inspired piece. So here I sit better late than never, rereading the story from last week prior to pressing "Post" and "Send."

After revealing that I want to be sucked in by beauty and mesmerized by glitter, I decided to wash the windows. I wondered what I was avoiding creatively. Which piece called to me? There were several but I just wanted to wash the windows, only six of them on a rare, warm for November in Nashville day.

I got out the requisite tools then realized if Martha was doing this she'd be wearing a bright color, not to mention holding a drink while music played. My sweatshirt was new and a sky blue color that actually worked well with my hair. I had worn it ever so briefly one day prior. I had on my good walking tights, not the holey ones. Martha would approve. Where were the photographers when I needed them? I thought piano was appropriate and uplifting, but when I put in the cd, I found Robert Cray already in the player. How could I not enjoy some funky blues played by none other than one of Bob's namesakes? (If you don't know who Bob is, read the Oct. 10 Musing.)

As for the drink, window washing on a sunny afternoon called for red wine in my mind. It could only be called for in my mind, since my liquor cabinet, contrary to Martha's, only held a bit of white. Although atop the counter (our liquor cabinet) there did sit one lonely bottle, a red that was a gift to Jerry. But I couldn't. So I opted for hot tea in a bright red cup that popped.

I found myself moving right along all the while thinking this is how Martha does it and if she doesn't this is how it's suppose to be done. I was actually enjoying a task that I now relegate to once a year when it use to be twice. Dirty windows were the one reason I liked cloudy days. The coating of dirt and rain streaks don't show on cloudy days.

Washing the windows, with hot tea nearby and music playing felt very French even without the red wine. I was engaged in more than just cleaning the window, I was having an experience which was beautiful. Ah, this was what made it feel French. Although I've no concrete evidence to back this up when it comes to window washing, I was reminded of how this summer in France I had the sense that the French bring beauty to whatever they do. I saw it in the brightly colored shutters on the windows of old buildings, in the neat array of food at the open air market, in the presentation of food and even in the dear bar of lavender soap given to us by a friend's mother as we parted - which I'm still using. (Yes those are French, not Nashville windows, above.)

I guess I do have some concrete evidence, yet the beauty to which I'm referring was actually on a deeper level, than even the way food was presented or shutters painted. Beauty was a thing of the heart and not just the stomach. It was and is ineffable. I felt it as I cried through much of the trip moved by what I sensed. And although I still can't pronounce it, I felt what was meant by joie de vivre, the joy in living.

I was cleaning right along when my engagement with joy was temporarily halted. I ran out of window cleaner. This would never happen at Martha's. I searched every cabinet where I might have tucked an extra can to find none. I resorted to environmentally correct vinegar and water, but had a temperamental spray bottle. I cleaned on with the moody sprayer and realized how moody I become when things don't go my way, the simplest of things just like what I was experiencing. How embarrassing to admit.

I imagined if in France, I would continue on happily cleaning, without a care as to whether the sprayer worked or not. (If truly in France, I would have of course gone out to buy red wine then sat with wine and enjoyed looking at the windows maybe while enjoying the sunshine.)

Remembering France returned to me my joy and also allowed me to realize I had felt the same level of joy to which I'm referring, no offense to the French, while in Russia and a South African homeland in my twenties. Without any of the material trappings to which we're accustomed, the people exuded joy. They were people of such beauty because their spirits were beauty-filled.

I washed windows and wondered if this depth of joy is birthed partially because of what the souls in these lands have lived through. I thought of all that the soil and soul had born witness to in these places leaving the people with their spirits and hearts often broken, yet able to share life, the bare bones of life with one another and some way through this find sustenance and joy.

What I've been through does not compare with what so many others have traversed, but I do know that when I've been in the dark nights of my own journey, when I thought some mornings I could not put my feet on the floor and get out of bed, that there came a moment when I saw the sky or heard a bird sing as if for the first time. The last time this happened I was walking down the street and looked up just as the sun set shifting colors behind the clouds. I distinctly remember smiling inside and thinking, 'I just felt happy to be alive.'

I washed windows and pondered all the soil has felt and absorbed in these lands afar and inside, the literal land and the land of the heart, all that has been healed and transformed thanks to the beauty of nature and of love.

Now days later, I realize although I will post this story sending its vibes out into the ethers, its essence will continue to turn within me. Thanks to a simple task like washing windows, I'm cleaning a window into my soul and the soil of those to whose spirits I feel so kin. This is a shift I run to and yes, want to be sucked into, the shift of seeing the magic in the mundane. For nothing is mundane when we've eyes to see and ears to hear the interconnected levels available all the time. Imagine that shift!
-Dawn!, The Good News Muse

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sucked in by Beauty Thanks to Martha Stewart & Venus

Somehow a copy of Martha Stewart's "Living" addressed to me ended up in my mailbox recently. Upon making it past the "cover turkey" surrounded by gigantic sage larger than any grown in my garden, I ended up feeling more like dying than living. Surely this wasn't the effect the sender intended.

At first as I scanned the photos, I was completely taken with a pie. It wasn't just any pie. The recipe read: Apple-Blackberry Pie with "Fall Leaves" Pate Brisee. I wanted to add a visit to Davis Cookware in Hillsboro Village to my 'to do' list in hopes of finding tiny leaf shaped cookie cutters. Yes, the top of the crust was made of beautiful fall leaves cut with a leaf cutter then the leaf veins were etched with a knife. Reading further, I discovered something called an egg wash is involved. I suspect this is not a facial moisturizer for the cook while the pie bakes. Upon reading the fine print, "a pate brisee is the pinnacle of pie-making" I realize I might truly metaphorically end up with egg on my face if I try this. The pumpkin pie with a shortbread crust ranked as 'easy' is probably where I should start.

Thanks to "Living" I want to move to one of Vermont's farms, where I can be part of the process of making cheese alongside little goats and Jersey cows. Martha's mag offers me a way to visit rather than actually have goats in the country of which I've been dreaming.

Page after page, I was sucked in by the beauty of what I saw. Rachel Lang, my astrologer friend, says I've a chart loaded with Venus meaning I love beautiful things. Martha obviously knows Venus too.

Earlier that very day while perusing a stack of childhood related odds and ends, I found some glittery pieces reminding me of how mesmerizing glitter was. I wondered if glitter still existed. Wonder no more. Glitter does more than exist. Glitter rocks. In the middle of "Living," I not only learn about a technique called "Glitter painting" but see Vivaldi and Sharkey, glitter painted portraits of Martha's cat and dog. (The photo conversion tool's available at I know what I'm getting Mystery and Bogeysattva for Christmas.

As Venus-filled person prone to excitability, I knew I was in trouble. To calm myself, I went to the front of the magazine where I probably should have started. Tucked between an internet and an insurance ad was a page titled 'Martha's Calendar' which included a list of things Martha does around her house. Written upon each day were two to four things I should be doing in November, things like clean out the gutters and winterize the beehives, organize the potting shed, apply bone meal to the bulbs. Just writing about it, I feel the fringes of panic. I'm not including yoga, working out and stocking the liqueur cabinet for entertaining. Yes, reading Martha's list made me want to find the liqueur cabinet, but wait I don't have one. Does this mean I have to build one?

If I'm doing all these tasks how do I have time for glittering, goats and egg washes?

A week from Friday I'm to bathe the cats! or so reads the calendar. Been there and done that on first cat. I still feel bad about the traumatizing her with the noisy hair dryer and that was twenty years ago. 'How does Vivaldi react to the dryer?' I wonder.

The only thing I had done in the prescribed first ten days of the month was dig up a few gladiola bulbs, but I hadn't even done that right. According to the calendar, the bulbs were to winter in the basement. I relocated them to a sunnier location in the soil.

The basement though was another matter. Periodically, usually when avoiding a writing project, I think of painting my basement floor. "Living" this month devotes an entire article to making one's basement livable. My armpits begin to sweat as my heart beats faster. Creating a "Haven Below" would be the ultimate of creative U-turns, possibly the final one since "Living" was making me feel more like dying.

I read on, on to feeding the birds in winter. There's Martha smiling, filling at least twenty tube feeders hanging from what appears to be the eve of a barn. I've a hard enough time ensuring the birds have food at our two bird feeders. She stands smiling, not a hair out of place, wearing snow white gloves while holding a long pole by which she removes each feeder. Around my bird feeders, the birds see me without a hair in place, often in a housecoat or holey pants and a sweatshirt sans gloves. As for the pole, the one I'm fussing with holds the feeder or is suppose to. The feeder keeps falling because clay soil is virtually impossible to sink the pole into not to mention the squirrels that try to climb the pole and the chipmunks that jump from the carport to the feeder to eat then jump down when they see me coming.

If this is a gift, the giver's intent I suspect was to make me feel good. Instead I'm reminded of the Halloween years ago when I had the impromptu idea of creating the "House of Martha Steward." I vaguely recall changing the last name to avoid a law suit and the house was really just a table with a screen and me behind it. The table held an assortment of holiday items. The mother's got roses because I thought it was Mother's Day. There were Easter eggs, a fake cake with firecrackers for the 4th of July and of course a Titan's pompom and banner (there's that cheer leader theme again). The parents loved it and the kids thought I was just plain weird. Finally I retrieved their candy from of course, a Christmas bag. The whole idea being that Martha, like so many many of us, fall prey to the commercialism of the holidays that one event bleeds into the next. My character was on the verge of a nervous breakdown or that's how the sign read.

I realize after finding the photo that I appeared to be having lots of fun. I was living like the magazine title suggests. Maybe this is part of Martha's intent, to increase beauty, joy and fun in the world.

My external world may be very different from Martha's but some part of our internal worlds aren't that far apart. Whether I'm glittering over the weekend or reminiscing about glittering days gone by, I want to be present in living rather than just existing and dying. I want to be mesmerized by glitter and fall shaped leaves atop a pie and curious as to the origins of pate brisee and how Vivaldi really feels after his cat bath next week. I want to feel the stretch as I reach to clean out my gutters and wash my windows. I want to enjoy goat cheese whether I make it to Vermont or not as well as relish talking to the birds watching as I fill the feeders housecoat and all.

I want to embrace the shift of being sucked in by beauty. Thank you, Venus. Thank you, Martha.

-Dawn!, The Good News Muse

Monday, November 9, 2009

Embracing the Inner Puppy and Squirrel

This morning I headed out for my walk and saw coming toward me a tiny puppy. This happy, bounding bundle of energy thought nothing of the traffic at the busy intersection nearby. Fortunately the traffic stopped, I gasped and the puppy kept coming only pausing ever so briefly to check me out. I scooped it into my arms and returned it to the appreciative neighbor from whom the puppy had escaped.

Within moments, a squirrel scampered down a tree up ahead and came running down the sidewalk toward me also. I've been on a rant lately as to how we don't honor the animals, but has word gotten out? Do they know?

Upon seeing me, the squirrel unlike the dog, put on its brakes and spun around racing as fast as it's little legs would carry it back up the tree from which it came.

I smiled thinking of how we all start out as young children, like the puppy, full of enthusiasm, seldom meeting a stranger then all too often we become more like the retreating, safety seeking squirrel.

I was reminded of how I've often had two modes through life, one being when I live unrestrained with a sense of "Whoo-hoo, life is a playground filled with new and interesting ventures." Then just as life gets really exciting and I'm feeling too alive, I turn into the squirrel with a sense of "Oh, shit, life might be actually be on my side. Good things could happen and happen too fast." I like the squirrel retreat to my 'tree' as life passes by.

I want more running toward the new and exciting while also allowing for a tree to lean against not for safety but for rest and assimilation. I think that makes me the puppy and the squirrel. I honor these moments of grace offering lessons through the animals as well as the animals that live within.

What animals speak to you? What are they calling you to?
-Dawn! The Good News Muse
(Bob's working on his next story)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Back to the Garden - A Thought from Bob and the Buds, I Mean Bulbs

(Bob and I wrote this four months ago. My harsh editor, the one within, didn't allow me to post it. I just found and reread it. I must fire my editor. Soon an update from the "Buds" now six inches tall! -Dawn)
"You've trouble with endings, huh?" Bob said noticing I was turning earth in a new part of the garden before putting 'to bed' the raised bed over which Bob had presided since his August arrival.

"What's up with that? he continued.

"You tell me," I shot back. "You're the one who talks with butterflies and caterpillars."

"It was one butterfly and caterpillar and as I told you they only came to me when they couldn't get your attention.....unlike now when you're eager to discuss what I'm noticing," Bob retorted and continued, "Rewind, rewind, I'm sorry. I should only speak for myself and not about you. I'm noticing a slight attachment to fixing you without honoring where you actually are."

Where we, Bob and I, were was in the garden preparing a new bed for the garlic. After amending and amen-ing the soil, I dug twenty little holes, little cocoons for the Chesnok Red, Bogatyr, Music Pink and Susanville garlic purchased from Jay at Burgess Falls Nursery. As I placed the bulbs each one in a dark little hole, I hummed a lullaby and explained that they were about to be covered in dirt. Although it might seem to be the end of their journey, in reality this was the beginning. Some of them might wonder if they would ever see the light again.

"Remember the light is in each of you. Pay attention. Trust your senses. You'll begin to feel the urge to emerge. You'll sense when it's time to grow toward the warmth," I shared.

Bob smiled. This was the human he had grown to love. She might have several projects going at once, but she ultimately remembered the truth.

Bob though was discovering his voice so he had to chime in. "Give my Buds here a few months and I guarantee you if we were out here 24/7 we'd begin to hear mumblings and rumblings that went something like this:

Chesnok Red: I'm heading up and outta here. Tired of waiting. Who's going with me?

Music Pink: I, I, I don't think it's time. Remember the Voice said timing's important.

Bogatyr: I missed that day in class. Did we have a lesson in timing?

Chesnok: There are no instructions, kid. There was no class. The Voice said to trust our senses and my sense says it's time. You grow it alone or you don't grow.

Music Pink: I think your ego's what's growing, Ches. What I heard was we would begin to feel the urge to emerge.

Suasanville: Chesnok, I'm feeling the urge to merge with you, but I'll wait for your return.

Bogatyr: It was emerge, not merge, Sue. The light is within each of us. Chesnok doesn't hold your light.

Susanville: You're just jealous, because if you do actually have a light, it can't be as pretty as mine. Not with a name like Boga-whatever

Music Pink: I just don't want to look like a fool. In my world of music, it's all about timing.

Bogatyr: No one will want me even if I do grow right.

Susanville (batting her bulb lashes): Show us the way, Chesnok.

Music Pink: Your Chesnok's already gone. He's gotta be first.

Bogatyr: Stop it, you two. Haven't you heard what they do to you once you arrive up there, up wherever? They cut you up, chop you up then saute or bake you. I'm staying put right where I am. It may be dark down here but at least it's familiar. It's safe.

Back in the garden....Bob adds, "My Buds will have forgotten the wisdom you shared with them. They'll get caught up in the backstory, their roles and story lines and forget the Under Story, their raison d'etre.

"Whoa, their raisin what?" I asked.

"Their reason for being, for being here on Earth or in their case down under in the earth. My Buds will forget they're not here to compete to see who can grow fastest, biggest or best. They're not here to be carrots or potatoes. They're here to be fully themselves. Yet these strongly held stories and ways of thinking about themselves passed on through the family line or dreamed up in the quiet of their own minds will ultimately separate them from who they really are and in turn separate them from one another. This in turn will contribute at a quantum level to the collective energy of separation on the planet. Forgetting one's reason for being impacts the individual and the collective...."

"Wait, wait, wait." I needed Bob to stop for a bit, to slow down but he was on a roll.

"Don't try to remember it all. Start with your reason for being, allow it to come to you. Don't go mentally chasing after it. It's all about the light like you told my buds, the bulbs. Allow the warmth of love to draw you out, don't resist the fertilizers of tears and fears, they call you into your fullness. Invite your purpose to grow from the rich darkness in your own soul fed by the varied experiences of your journey. That's when you'll begin to find your raisin, as you called it."

Bob, knowing I learn best when taught visually, was busy demonstrating one of the truths I need to amend into my personal soil. His little yellow hat poking through the earth reminds me that I, like you, am a carrier of the Light. I've lost this truth in dark times forgetting darkness provides ingredients for the journey. That when the external lights are low, we develop resilience as well as discover the brightness of our inner light and find community.

My insides would continue to be amended, but my soul was Amen-ing Bob's wisdom. I smiled grateful to have a wise StoryWeaver like Bob to help in this process as well as the newly planted garlic bulbs reminding me of the journey through the Garden of life.
-Dawn! The Good News Muse and Bob, her Gardening Guru

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What About Bob? What About You?

If you read my Oct. 10 story ,you know who Bob is or....was. Yes, a closer look at the lonely little tractor in the raised bed reveals Bob's absence. Yesterday prior to hiking I ran out to water the last of the green beans and a handful of beets. I threw a bucket of water on the beans and gasped, "Bob?" Assuming Bob's absence was a prank, I ran inside shouting, "911 - Bob's missing in action. Help. Help." I quickly sensed this wasn't a joke played by someone I knew at least.

I couldn't go hiking. What about Bob? Jerry of course says Bob will still be wherever he is upon our return. We drove to the trail while recounting our last remembrance of Bob and wondered whether he was 'missing in action' held hostage by a squirrel or raccoon desiring food for his release or being tortured as a means to gain access to his gardening wisdom. Worse yet what if he was AWOL, rebeling against my authority. I thought we had a pretty egalitarian relationship. Did Bob feel otherwise ?

The last time Bob and I really had a heart to heart was a couple of weeks ago. The garden was dying. The tomatoes vines were brown, the watermelons I planted late were the size of oranges and obviously not going to see maturity. We had just gone through our my mum-phase. I was bringing Bob in for winter when he said, "Leave me outside. I'll put the plants to bed. Grief's hard on you." This was Bob's way of saying let me take care of this outside stuff and you take care of the 'inside' stuff. Write about what shows up inside you as your first garden enters a new phase. Bob was faithful to his part of the agreement. I would see his tiny self under the green and brown remains of strawberries, okra, peppers and beans and smile although inside I felt melancholy. I was helpless to stop the cycle of death as the magical plants that had brought me such joy while teaching me life lessons were diminishing, gone.

With Bob's sudden disappearance I was jolted into remembering that I did none of the writing to which I had agreed. Had Bob struck a deal with a critter, asking it to cart him away to teach me a lesson? Loosing Bob reminded me of how quickly I loose myself , my insides and what makes me tick, my heart. I don't even know I'm lost.
By the time, I returned from the day's hike, dark had descended. So this morning early while still in my pajamas, I went out in search of Bob. Within minutes of digging in the leaves, I spotted his bright yellow hat and smiling face beneath the leaves.

"What an adventure," Bob said. "I wanted to see how nature acrtually does it, what it's like to be dynamically involved in the onoing process of one's self being altered into new form that would not be recognized by one's old form.
"You mean composting?" I asked.
He continued, "This is what one of the Shakespearen Henry's meant when he said, 'Presume not that I am the thing that I was.' Reminds me a bit of what the cocoon and butterfly explained earlier this summer."

"Whoa! You've been reading Shakespeare and taking anthropology classes without my knowing it?" I asked half angry and half happy. "You talked with a butterfly and caterpillar....without me?! You've no idea how upset I've been thinking you were MIA."
"Whoa, Sweetheart, if we want to talk 'missing in action' look no further than someone whose mastered being MIA in much of her own life. You know, I'm not into judgment. I'm just mindfully calling it like I see it."
I know Bob's right as he continues.

"You think I've been working out here all summer? Presence is best practiced with a balance of being and doing from a space of non-judging mindfulness. Remember I am Bob, your Buddhist gardening go-to guy. As for the butterfly and catterpillar, they only came to me because they couldn't get your attention." Now that I have your attention, take me inside. It's chilly out here.

I smile, the kind of smile one feels inside and out. Yes, Bob, I will take you and your lessons inside and from that place consider 'What about Me.......?" "What about YOU?
=from Dawn!, the Good News Muse & Bob 11/09

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Costumes - The Betrayal or Portrayal of Essence

For Halloween, Jerry and I freed our Inner Cheerleaders while also lifting the quantum energetic level of the local NFL team. Within 24 hours of our 'appearance' the Titans finally had their first 'W' in the win column. (Note: Jerry with surprising ease mastered the slight, but necessary back kick required of all aspiring cheerleaders. This is in no relation to the creative, ongoing kick backs of sorts performed by investment/banking institutions ultimately assisting in the recent economic meltdown. But I digress.)

As the handful of trick or treaters made their way down our street, we cheered: "We've got candy, yes, we do. We've got candy, how about you?" or "We give you candy and we take it away." (Clap 2 times) (Hmmm, am I the only one noticing in the first cheer the word 'money' could be substuted for 'candy' by major players in the investment industry and that our government could be in turn saying: "We gave you money, now we're taking it away," I think Pres. Obama needs a Chief of Cheers to assist in these matters.)

As for Halloween, we toned it down for the wee ones out for their first venture, as they were reluctant to approach, let alone take our candy. I was happily reminded of childhood when my mother drove my siblings and me over town trick or treating. We got homemade popcorn balls from one woman and cider poured by a witch from another.
Our den floor became a mini stock exchange as we traded our loot with one another. I was as mesmerized by the colorful wrappers as the candy inside, not unlike the Wall streeters seduced by the adrenaline of quickly making vast sums of money gradually negating the ethics behind aquistions.

I recalled one Halloween in college when I drove down the interstate dressed as a clown to surprise my grandmother and help her pass out candy to kids still flocking to her street ten years after I had. And although I didn't mention it, I remembered my father's propensity for costumes, his last being a clown which I saw only in a photo at his funeral. Friends I've unintentionally traumatized prior Halloweens would say I inherited his genes in this regards.

During the evening, I found myself most curious regarding were how free the costumed me felt and how restrained those driving past on our dead-end street appeared. My long pink locks unlocked the part of me that unknowingly had bought into being invisible or seen but not heard (see prior Musing).

As for those driving-by, some stared ahead driving in haste toward their destination at dead end while others stared at us without a trace of humor, not even a nod or slight smile. One lone girl with Auburn tags, as in the college, not hair color, happily shouted, "What's going on here?" This rare drive-by support was so unexpected we hardly shook our pom poms. Were the serious, driven drivers-by unknowingly portraying who they think they must be in our society to get ahead or were their expressions conveying shock over grown ups having fun.?

Our favorite treaters were Lily! the cheerleader who inspired this trilogy of sorts and Candy Man, whose pants were striped in twizzlers, her shirt and hat in gum drops, while sporting a Hershey's kiss umbrella and a twizzler mustache....all her creation.

Although we associate Halloween with shadow, the dark, mysterious and scarey side of life, Ella and Lily's costumes conveyed their very essence, not shadow. Candy Man, aka Ella, has the sweetest, most caring heart I know and Lily! the boldest of spirits. I suspect with the parents and friends they have, their essence will not end up in their shadow to be remembered in therapy or self-help circles later in life.

So many of our individual problems (which in turn become societal) comes from gradually and unconsciously putting on the "costumes" we wear the other 364 days of the year. These are the costumes we come to believe we need for protection and status, to please others or to portray we don't need others, out of the need to be invisible or visible. These layers and labels first separate us from who we are then in turn separate us from one another.

Isn't it ironic the 'costume' I put on at a young age that I thought would keep me from feeling alone, resulted in a greater aloneness, one that led to my betraying myself and sending into my shadow a vibrant me? So often what we decide to portray often betrays who we really are in spirit and essence.
Thanks to Lily, I happened upon my essence, my cheer leader, who realizes she is not only to be seen, but heard, heard first and foremost by Me!

I wish for each of us, including those profitting from questionable practices on Wall Street, a remembering of who we fully are in our essence and a gentle laying aside of our 'costumes.' Imagine the shift that is bringing !
-Dawn! The Good News Muse  October 31, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

To Have Peed or Not to Have Peeded? I Didn't Seem to Have an Option, But I Sure Could Have Used A Cheerleader

What on earth was I thinking when I wrote in my prior Musing "I am Dawn!" and stated I'd awake each morning with confidence thanks to accessing my Inner Cheerleader. As so often happens with whatever I write, I'm shown within 24 hours how I don't embody the shift my website nor my writing attests to.

Yes, it's hard to admit but the last thing I feel upon waking is the excitement suggested by an exclamation point. If anything, ! is more like the ball and bat with which I feel I've been hit before morning coffee and sometimes afterward. I don't look forward to the day or my life and this is hard to admit.

On this particular morning as I slogged downstairs my coffee-radar on, my Inner Cheerleader AWOL, I heard: Give me a C, Give me an R, Give me a EATE. What do you have? CREATE.

Jerry stood in sweats spelling out the perfect cheer. I went from slogging to hugging with no trace of my grumpiness to which we're accustomed. The cheering continued throughout the day in phone messages and at lunch creating for me a very different and contagious energy.

I called a friend who's attending a series of unending interviews and not only cheered for her but suggested her husband do likewise. While walking down the street, I cheered for my neighbor Judy raking leaves from the storm drains in the street. You can't cheer for someone else or be cheered for yourself without experiencing a positive energy shift. This may not apply if your team's severely loosing in a sporting event, though quantum physicists might argue cheering even helps then.

How on earth did the Dawn who burned her name and an exclamation mark in wood go AWOL?
How did I come to forget the girl in the hairnet( a potential dream catcher according to my friend Laura)? Who stole her fire or did she unknowingly quit tending it?

Fifth grade, around the time of the photo and the height of my wood burning period, was the best of times followed by the harshest. I had just glimpsed confidence having won the district speech contest in 4th grade and along with two friends getting one of three roles in a 5th grade play. This was a really big deal to the girl in the hairnet whose only performances other than church choir were in front of her bedroom mirror singing duets into a hairbrush with Karen Carpenter, Cher and various artists from Soul Train and American Bandstand. (Remember "Love Train?" I loved that song.)

These two positive events were quickly followed by public and private traumas starting with peeing on myself in the outfield during recess. The only thing making this worse was the outfield was asphalt. I wanted to sink into Mother Earth unlike the puddle that didn't sink but surrounded me. Instead I pretended to be throwing up, a 5th grade attempt at distracting my peer from the pee since a fellow outfielder walked over to ensure I was okay.

I rushed by the teacher whose rule was you either 'went' before or after recess, but not during. I ran by her and vaguely remember calling my mother to come get me. The event was never spoken about at least to me that I recall. There was nothing to cheer here other than maybe the fact that I cleared the playground. (Great, now that I'm allowing myself to truly think of this, I now wonder what happened to the puddle?)

This incident was followed by a total fall apart during another speech contest as my limbs, lips and voice quaked. At the conclusion, one parent said to another, "What happened to her? She did so well last year." Finding ways to avoid public speaking became the compass guiding my life so much so that I chose the only major in college which allowed me to trade taking speech class for diction which only required we sit in circles rather than stand before an audience. (In English class, my rule was broken due to having to recite poems and give very brief talks, mine were brief and I chose to break my rule when I tried out for yes, cheerleader. Somehow I discovered that when shouting neither my voice nor body trembled. I proudly cheered before my peers who to my dismay chose my girlfriends for the squad.)

The speech and pee incidents were closely followed by having to be resuscitated at camp during a treading water contest when I not only took myself down but a fellow camper with me. These three public events don't include my private fears of death and hell. Yes, each morning around this time I began to feel relief I had not awakened in hell, the firey burning kind thanks to the preacher's Sunday sermons, yet I awoke in my personal hell. I thought I had cirrohsis of the liver as a 5th grader because I was spitting up what I now know are tonsil stones but at the time sure looked like how I imagined my liver having read of it in the World Book Encyclopedia. I cried so much and waited to die as the fire in me dimmed. The girl who wrote Dawn! came to associate her name more with mourning than morning.

This week I've wondered what it would have been like to have had an outer cheerleader during the earlier events of my Fifth Grade years. These events probably wouldn't have birthed shame and its kin if in the outfield I had heard: "It's alright. It's okay. We all have accidents. Yours was today." Or what if after the speech I had heard: "You're alright. You're okay. We all get scared. Fear works that way."

Of course, my peers and parents were all part of a culture that was cheering deficient in the ways I desired. The beliefs of those times: "Pride goes before the fall" and "Children are to be seen and not heard" did not promote a cheer-ful environment. Thanks to the environment and above situations (I didn't even go into the boyfriend chapter of that era or more aptly stated boyfriendless chapters.), I emerged like most of us, needing a positive inner and outer cheerleaders. This brings me to: I need you. Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap. You need me. Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap. It's about reciprocity.

In the prior story I concluded with accessing my inner cheerleader. We need both, to be able to cheer ourselves on internally and also accept or ask for cheers from others. We need one another. The earth needs our cheers, the Universe might like a few and the angels and guides watching over us all would probably enjoy a cheer or two.

"Go, Friends, Go. There's a story to be told. Go, Earth, Go. Lovingly unfold." Cheers to us all.
-Dawn!, The Good News Muse

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I'm Dawn! (the one wearing a hairnet) Who are You?

No, this is not my Halloween costume nor the result of a sibling prank played by my younger brother or sister while gathering blackmail material for later in life. This is me at eleven, the me that had the confidence to wear a hairnet as well as pj's while posing for a photo. Can you believe I was actually posing wearing a hairnet? I can't. I look at her and wonder, 'Who on earth was this girl?'

She was the same eleven year old who upon receiving a wood burning kit for Christmas promptly burned her name Prometheus-like on a 3" X 12" piece of wood. She not only wrote her name but followed it with an exclamation point and hung the pronouncement on her bedroom door.

A few years ago, my sister upon helping my mother clean things out at home, brought me the sign. Even then I wondered who was this girl who not only wrote her name, but added the exclamation mark. I hung it over the door to my writing room and promptly forgot it. Last week, I took it from the door where it's ignored and began to ponder it and her.

The day after doing this, Lily and her mother, my friend, Alicia, walked down to visit. Actually I should write Lily! for Lily has no problem with owning who she is and stating what she needs to have happen in her life. In some cases Lily! doesn't state a thing, she just does it like happened this summer when she learned to ride her bike without assistance of the human or training wheel type. She wanted to learn so she did. My eleven year old and Lily! would have gotten along quite fine.

The day Lily came to visit, she wore her Halloween costume, a pink cheer leading outfit complete with pink pom poms. Someone earlier that day commented to Lily's mom that it would be great if we each had a cheerleader to encourage us throughout the day. This idea stayed with me long after Lily in her outfit and flip flops rode her older sister's mountain bike down the street. (Yes, she's now learning to ride an even bigger bike.)

I continued to think of having my own personal cheerleader as well as the girl who burned: Dawn! into the piece of wood that hung on her bedroom door throughout the days and nights of her childhood. I can list the many things that stole her fire, but I also know when, like Lily, I do what I know to do without concern for what others think, I feel that fire again. I feel her most when I lean into my fear and embrace adventure, whether it's in France as happened this summer or in my own home as I sit to write.

I could use a cheerleader to boost my resilience in the simplest of things. Last night as I sat
trying to determine how to use an external hard drive purchased for my computer nearly a year ago, her first cheer would have gone something like: Hit it. Hit it. Harder. Harder. (as in the computer screen) followed by:Break it. (clap, clap) Break it. (clap, clap). Once she realized I was not humored or supported, she would have cheered: You're alright. You're okay. Tomorrow is a brand new day followed by: Ask for help. (Clap 5 times.) Ask for help. (Clap 5 times.) You might have to be a sports fan to get the rhythm of the cheers.

Obviously I didn't break my computer although I didn't figure out hard drives. I did resolve to: Ask for help and either clap five times or click my heels together.

In the meantime, even when it's not Halloween, I will put on the costume of confidence, and wear it daily. I will go to sleep with it at night so I remember who I really am each morning. For I am Dawn!

Who are you! and what cheers do you want to hear from your Inner Cheerleader?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I'm Gonna Have to Face It, I'm Addicted to Mums

Bob and I have picked possibly the last beans of my inaugural gardening season. Everything but the beets, eggplants and lettuce have come to an end. Even the cherry tomatoes I wrote of
recently have met a watery demise as rains continue to fall.

Bob became my gardening go-to guy late in the growing season. We found one another in mid-August just after he had moved into a local store. There he sat on a shelf awaiting the holidays. Now he sits in my garden awaiting the next task. He's been spared the endless cycle of holiday tunes that play endlessly starting November 1st and I've gotten a gardening partner.

People complain about not being able to find 'good' help. Bob's in the garden 24/7. Always wearing the same content expression; he's reliable, steadfast and wise. When the bugs ate two of my three broccoli plants, Bob reminded me this opened space for green beans. When the cauliflower succumbed to the same bugs, he reminded that not only do I not eat cauliflower, but that space is good, just space, the empty rich void of garden soil. Bob's detached and never reactive. His motto? Don't just do something. Be here. Bob's Buddhist stance wasn't on the box alongside his tractor with the honking horn and gurgling engine.

Why Bob? Bob's derived from many musical Bob's. First there's Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame acclaimed recently for his Grammy with Nashville's Allison Krauss for "Raising Sand." We still think it should have been "Raising Crops." This Robert also co-wrote "Dirt in a Hole" which we thought might be "our" song, until we discovered it's more about a funeral than a garden. Then there's Blue's musician Robert Cray who I discovered in the very late Nineties (I'm slow). I love this Robert's song "Playing in the Dirt." Bob being a man of morals refuses to play the way the song suggests yet we still dig the song.

I should probably be embarrassed by the last Bob who was actually the first musical Robert who came to mind as Bob's namesake. This Robert made famous the 80's "Addicted to Love" - Robert Palmer, that is. Remember "You're gonna have to face it, you're addicted to love." I know you're thinking, 'Dawn, you're gonna have to face it this is a really bad song from a musically lack luster era.'

Think what you must, we're proudly claiming "Addicted to Love" as our personal anthem, addicted to loving the Earth, that is.

Love, in our case, manifests in nature with plants and animals. I love nature except when an occasional hawk swoops down and grabs one of 'my' birds. With Bob's help, most days I can eventually love the hawk. It's tougher loving people. I've a hard time with hunters as evidenced with my former story, as well as politicians, tv preachers and people who think Mother Earth is their ashtray. It's not that I don't like people, but I can be in the foulest of moods and put me in the yard and my spirit rebounds.

Being someone who lives most of her life according to plans, my addiction to loving life intensifies when I synchronistically come upon real life go-to gardening guys. Sorry, Bob. While taking a slightly different route to the country last weekend, I passed a nursery advertising mums. I wasn't thinking about mums. Mums weren't on my 'to buy' list, yet I couldn't resist seeing what kind of mum one could buy when the sign read: Ten for $30. These mums would surely be Bob-sized. I'm gonna have to make amends to Bob.

I turned around and pulled into Burgess Falls Nursery where moments later Jay, the owner, was loading my trunk with mums about to bloom into the most gentle colors. These were not your usual brilliant purples and yellows for sale everywhere in Fall that eventually die and end up in the trash or compost if they're lucky. These mums were on the verge of blossoming into soothing pastels. To make it even better, they spread if their feet are kept dry with proper drainage.

Sitting on the counter, small brown bags with curious names written on the side enticed me. Inside were garlic bulbs which Jay noted would soon be ready for planting. Who could resist names like Susanville, Bogatyr, Chesnok Red or Music Pink? I drove away with garlic, directions for planting and a mum-filled trunk. Most importantly I sensed having met a kindred spirit. Spontaneous moments and meetings heighten my loving life and help me return to the flow when I don't even know I'm out of it.

Damp from the downpour that passed over during the mum spree, I wiped myself off with a towel from the floorboard. Dirt from my shoes sprinkled my face. Bob says we're here to learn from the plants. They don't complain when wet and dirty. On the contrary, they thrive. So should I.

Happily I stopped in next to see Mike at Mmkm Family Produce Market just down the road. We've only grown green beans so Mike's garden this Fall has provided us with white ones. On this particular day, I buy beans that once shelled are white with purple flecks. I walk out with a with a bag of beans, a handful of potatoes and squash for $4 and best of all the bag was biodegradable.

I wonder sometimes how long this new found love will last until I realize that's the whisper of fear in my ear. Fear says I'm fickle and will grow tired of playing in the dirt. Bob reminds me as long as I'm having fun, sowing and growing will never grow tiring.

In the meantime, as I lay to rest this years plants, next year's garden is being dreamed. Bob clears his throat at this juncture, a signal that I must confess, my dreams are coming to fruition. My order from for tomato and veggie cages as well as potato bins and bean grids arrived this week.

I'm happy to report that Bob and I rose early the next day, moving in day, and welcomed twenty six new souls to their home in our garden. Yes, I made another mum run and thanks to Jay returned with fourteen more. Now Bob sings, "Dawn, you're gonna have to face it, you're addicted to mums."

At days end as I put away my tools, I thought, 'If this is my last day on earth, I have done exactly as I wanted, creating home for the mum souls entrusted to me for as French poet Gerard de Nerval said, "Every flower is a soul blossoming into nature." (from the Burgess Falls Nursery website).

I had found kindred souls at the nursery in plant and human form and lest I forget, earlier this summer in Bob form. As for amends, Bob says, "The only thing needing amending is this soil. Let's learn about composting these leaves and start playing in the dirt."

-Dawn, The Good News Muse,

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Draggy Ass Energy, It's Causes and Cures

"Energy creates energy." - Sarah Bernhardt

There she stood at the door, my friend who I had not seen in months, announcing, "I just want you to know before I come in that I have draggy ass energy today."

To her surprise, I replied, "Please come in. I have draggy ass energy too." I was grateful to know there was a phrase for what I had.

She walked in. We hugged and laughed, then made peppermint tea laced with coconut oil. My friend sang the praises of coconut oil the first time she ever visited and I've had some on hand ever since.

Over the course of exchanging stories of France, dreams, astronauts and Africa, we laughed, teared up at times and smiled a lot. Somewhere in the midst of our sharing, my draggy-ass energy shifted.

Later that evening, a journal cover caught while bookstore browsing. I found within its pages a quote by Sarah Bernhardt, "Energy creates energy." My equation isn't as succinct as Sarah's, but I would add, Showing up and sharing transforms draggy ass energy.

A few days after writing the above, I found myself pondering the source of my DAE. As Jerry shared a story from the morning paper, I realized my energetic nose dive had nothing to do with the gray weather or planets in retrograde. It had nothing to do with peri-menopause or politics. It started with hiking.

I had just returned from Arizona hooked on hiking. One day we covered 9.5 miles on Templeton trail winding around Sedona's red rocks. I couldn't turn down a trail sharing the name of my dearly loved but deceased cat. Another lesser hike led us into a canyon where we eventually came upon a stream lined with cat tails and clear pools reflecting the red rock walls. (The photo's not upside down. That's the reflection.) I determined once home that I would be found hiking every weekend and even some weekdays when my schedule allowed.

My first two days back I made it to the local lake where I put in four miles daily. That weekend we drove to our house in the country which to my new found excitement is only a few minutes from land set aside by the state government for hiking.

With my new enthusiasm, I determined this weekend would be different. Instead of diving into a long list of chores on Saturday, I suggested we hike to Polly's Branch Falls and the Caney Fork River. When we were last at the river, there was no water only huge boulders where water usually flows.

We headed out. I was elated. A Fall filled with hikes in nature's beauty stretched before us. We arrived at the trail head to find we weren't the only ones to hit the woods. Two tents surrounded by all kinds of gear were set up near the parking lot. This was strange. Most people try to get away from the parking lot to camp.

A young man approached me and said, "You can't hike during hunting season."

Just as I began to tell this stranger I was going to hike, a ranger arrived. My relief was short lived as he confirmed that deer season began three weeks prior and would continue into December. He suggested that I hike down the road. I was furious over being unable to hike but also over hunting in general. I unloaded on this ranger stranger saying that I wished I would live to see a day when men who hunt would find something meaningful in which to invest their energies instead of killing animals.

As I walked away, he said, "Don't forget we have to share." I only wished I had told him I'm one of the most sharing people I know but I would never desire to share with people who used guns to kill animals for pleasure or to prove their manhood (or womanhood).

Down the road, we found a hiker-filled trail about which I should have been happy as in 'yeah, people are appreciating nature, but I wasn't. My devastation had company, profound sadness, not over loosing 'my trails' for three months but over how we treat animals.

The week prior as I had watched Ken Burn's documentary, "The National Parks - America's Best Idea" I wept seeing buffalo herds decimated and photos of men posing by rows of wolf, elk, and bear hides as well as birds killed by the thousands so women could have plumes on hats. And although these events eventually birthed the Sierra Club and Audubon Society, my body shook with sorrow seeing the slaughter of the animals who had called America home long before we arrived.

Now you know, and more importantly I know, the reason for my draggy ass energy. I talked myself out of kick-ass energy (not necessarily the answer) into a cocktail of powerlessness, hopelessness, despair and resignation.

The hunters were the last straw in a series of proverbial straws that had been piling up inside me. The "pile" included how animals we ultimately eat are treated in corporate farms of concrete prior to making it to our dinner plate as well as how animals are used in research labs for new medicines and the study of disease.

Several of the straws relate to our unconsciousness around the multitude of ideas and inventions birthed by animals. The quill (aka feather) was used for writing from the 6th to 19th century. How often do we write by hand or computer or read anything and realize this all started with a bird's feather? How simple and profound that a feather was a basic building block in our communicating with one another. Birds inspired flight and our car engines have "horse power." I know you know these things, but I need to remind me and us. This helps me somehow counteract the 'straws' that continue to accumulate in the pile.

I don't often read the newspaper, but lately when I do I find things like: Tennessee expects record bear hunt. Why do Tennesseans or anyone for that matter need to hunt bears? Naive me, I assume it's because they want a bear skin on their floor.

Then I happen upon a story in the Oct. 17th Tennessean that provides a clue. This story involves a man making $394 from the sale of 300 doves. I should have known. What was I thinking? Of course, money's involved. The story also reveals that the feds are storing 2,000 pounds of mussel shells in a poaching case. The mussels were only tens of thousands illegally harvested from TN rivers and shipped to Japanese pearl makers. (I'm not prone to buying pearls, but now I know I won't.) The same report relates how the dove selling man allegedly sold deer and rabbits last year. I don't want to sound harsh. What if this man needs money to support his family. Charlie Brown in me says, "Arrrgggh, someone give this man a job."

I need to be talked down, until I realize, the ranger was right. Yes, the ranger was right. We need to share. That's at the root of my issue. Stuffing and not sharing caused my draggy ass energy. Sharing shifted it. The ranger was right. We need to share. The animals have been sharing this land with us since our arrival. I long for an attitude of gratitude, like native people have, for the animals that so willing give to us and live with us. As the ranger suggests and Sarah B. said, "Energy creates energy." The shared energy of the animal and plant sustains us. Did the ranger know about quantum physics, the science showing that we're all entangled and sharing everything? Even me and the hunter? I cringe.

A voice inside says, "Yes, you and the hunter."

All I want is for people to stop being greedy. The voice says, "Then first stop being greedy with your love. Send the hunter your love."

"Even the ones in Alaska who are hunting wolves aerially?"

"Yes," says the voice.

I don't know if I can do that. Let me start with the hunters in my area. I can send blessings to those who will savor deer meat this winter. I envision them honoring the animal sharing its life with them. And for those who feel they must hang any animal's head on their wall, I wish for them new ways to hold their own heads high and feel a sense of pride being a human, ways that don't involve hierarchy over others or animals.

As I wind down this unending story, I recall several photos circulating in the internet sphere lately, photos of odd animal pairs. There was the young bobcat curled up sleeping on the fawn in the aftermath of the California fires. There's the depressed orangutan at an animal rescue mission whose funk lifted when Roscoe the hound dog arrived. This email even includes the odd couple dog paddling. And of course there are periodic news stories of mother dogs nursing kittens and all kinds of babies that aren't their kin.

The animals are sharing with us lessons, differences can be overcome. I would love to see the day when I begin getting internet stories with photos showing former hunters pointing out bears and wolves to his children through binoculars, not the scope of a gun.

Should you choose after this, to continue to read my Musings, I suspect there will be more of these attempts at discerning the "Good News" in all of this. It's hard to think of myself as being the Good News Muse when I feel this angry and upset. Yet untangling this starts with owning my truth especially when it's uncomfortable, judging and complicated and yes, in turn sharing that with you. Thank you for being part of the cycle of sharing. For me, in good and hard times, that is Good News.
Dawn, The Trying to Find the Good News Muse
** Sign up for easy to sign environment/animal email petitions at Earth to Care . Last week alone, I signed two e-petitions one asking the Obama administration to halt aerial hunting of wolves in Alaska, yes, this means hunting them by helicopter ! That's not hunting. That's stalking and terrorizing.